Damn these Hands

I’ve been dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) for about 13 years or so. I remember around when it started, back when I was about 19 I would wake up in the middle of the night with my hands numb, tingling and burning. This would go on all night long, every few hours waking to extreme pain caused by inflammation squeezing down on the nerves to my fingers and thumb. It really is no fun, that’s for sure.

A while ago, when I gave up grains, dairy and legumes, all of this inflammation went away and I never had to deal with these waking bouts of pain. In fact, I thought that I had kicked it entirely, that is until about a month ago.

A month ago four things came together, all of which are possible culprits: I went back to work (manual labor), I started playing guitar more often, I started practicing drumming more often, and I reintroduced dairy into my diet. I am currently looking for a different line of work, but the reason for that goes beyond my current job’s impact on my CTS (I just hate my job). As for guitar, well, I don’t know that I can just stop, it is just a part of me (same with drums). I would probably cut my hands off before I would give up guitar (or drums), more out of spite (to my hands) than anything. So, that leaves dairy.

When it comes to figuring this stuff out, one must take into account that it can be compounding variables causing the problem, or it can be just one, so one must do a little self experimentation to weed out those that aren’t causal. All of the activities mentioned (work, drumming, guitar) are things that I’ve done in combination over periods of time without having CTS symptoms rear their ugly head. So, it only makes sense that I should begin my self-experiment with the one thing that is the outlier: dairy.

To be honest, it makes perfect sense that dairy might be the problem, because not only have I been indulging quite a bit lately (Kerrygold Dubliner is like heaven), but the casein in dairy is highly inflammatory for those who are sensitive/allergic to it. To be honest, I don’t know what my sensitivity level is with dairy, because I quit eating dairy at the same time that I cut grains and legumes from my diet (both of which I am ultra-sensitive to). So, beginning today, I will not be eating any dairy other than butter (which I don’t have any reactions to).

Just a little something that I’d like to add for those who have CTS but have tried everything in the book. Something that has certainly helped me in the past is a little thing called the ‘NSD Powerball‘. Basically, it is a weighted gyroscope inside of a ball that fits in your hand. What you do is get the weight spinning and use your hand in a circular motion to keep the weight spinning. As you spin it, it creates a counter force to the circular motion that your hand is doing. The faster you spin it, the more force it creates. Some people might think that this would be counterintuitive, that CTS is caused by overactivity of the wrist and hand, but this isn’t always the case. Much like the fact that many cases of chronic back pain are caused by a weak abdominal section, thus causing an imbalance and inflammation of the back muscles, the same is true of carpal tunnel syndrome (in some cases). Sometimes the inflammation of the muscles that go through that tunnel is due to the lack of exercise of the countering muscles. For those who know what CTS is like, anything is certainly worth trying.

I will certainly keep you posted on how this self-experiment turns out. I have a feeling that the reimplementation of dairy is going to prove to be the culprit. If it is, that doesn’t mean that I must give up dairy entirely, it just means that I will have to be more moderate regarding its use in my diet. After all, I freaking love cheese.

Note: I wish to thank Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson and Mathieu Lalonde for the wealth of knowledge that they’ve provided me in the past regarding nutrition. You guys are awesome!

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3 Comments on “Damn these Hands”


  1. […] few weeks ago I mentioned that I have carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and that I have been battling it for about 13 years. I […]


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  3. Usually I don’t read article on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very forced me to try and do it! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thanks, quite nice article.


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